Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Person: TrafficWatch

The assignment was supposed to go to someone else, but last minute breaking news forced a juggling of the schedule.

A contractor was setting beams for the bridge that takes Interstate 81 over Route 315, on the approach to Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport.  Not only was it tying up traffic on the interstate, getting to the airport was an absolute nightmare.  Beam setting is a delicate process, and traffic has to come to a halt as the giant concrete beams are dropped in to place.

Before continuing, I have to point out there is no "good time" for construction.  Working at night is dangerous for the construction people, no matter how good the lighting.  Daytime work causes massive traffic back ups.

I should also note that this is not one of my favorite projects.  While the acceleration and deceleration ramps here needed to be lengthened and widened, the interchange itself was functioning nicely.  For some reason, Penndot felt the need to add traffic circles, which no one likes.

Okay, back on track.

Often, to get to the scene of a traffic jam, you have to get stuck in the traffic jam.  That was the case as the minutes ticked away late Tuesday morning.  Our noon broadcast was approaching.  We were looking for that perfect location, where you could see the bridge construction and the traffic tie ups.  It didn't exist.  We found a nice, safe place-- high above the interstate, in the parking lot of a closed restaurant.  Trees blocked the view of the bridge, but you could see stopped cars and trucks on the interstate.  Most importantly, we were out of harm's way.  State Police frown on live trucks parked along interstates.  We didn't want to mess up what the construction workers were doing.  That limited our options, but safety first.

We were live at noon, giving people a fairly good idea of what was happening on the highway, and what they could expect for the rest of the afternoon.

Luckily, we didn't hit traffic on the way back to the office to end our shift.